Many roles for volunteers at Torbay Hospital Radio

Torbay Hospital Radio presenter Shelley Szender

Torbay Hospital Radio presenter Shelley Szender - Credit: Submitted

I’m no word wizard like Dame Susie Dent from the kingdom of Countdown but I love the study of words and their formulation.

Did you know that the word ‘volunteer’ stems from the latin word ‘volutarius’ which means 'willing of one’s choice'?

The word first came into English parlance in a poem in 1330.

So, why do we volunteer?

I think we predominately care and help others, we want to feel useful, make new friends, learn new skills and sometimes this can lead to employment. Volunteering is a two-way process.

When I was eight years old I enrolled with the British Red Cross as a cadet.

Every Tuesday for five years I donned my beret and set off ready to mummify a willing suspect from head to toe in all sorts of bandaging. If they were really lucky I would manoeuvre them into the recovery position.

Most Read

My least favourite was learning how to do ‘hospital corners’ for my nursing exam - thank goodness for duvets!

At least I can still recite the phonetic alphabet as if I was Juliet Bravo.

One memory will stay with me forever. As Christmas approached, we were seconded to chaperone the elderly around Woolworths, to help them with their Christmas shopping.

As I navigated a lovely lady around in her wheelchair, I remember chatting to her about where she would be spending Christmas and she informed me that she would spending Christmas in her residential home.

I remember going home that night and crying my heart out. I must have only been nine or 10.

I couldn’t comprehend that this lady wouldn't be with her family. I thought of my dear grandma who spent every Christmas with us.

My mum suggested that perhaps it would be nice if I visited this lady at her home on Christmas Day.

My dad drove me to the residential home on Christmas morning and I presented the lady with a basket of fruit for her and her fellow housemates to share. She was delighted to see me. 

When lockdown was announced in March 2020, I was put on furlough from my day job.

I was bereft. I felt lost and I needed to have a purpose and routine. So, I volunteered with Torbay Community Helpline.

My role was a ‘befriender’ where I would phone people who needed help from the service.

I may have been the only person they had spoken to that day.

With my previous experience of working in mental health, I was able to signpost them to the correct organisation.

If I had a concern I would inform the office who would offer further assistance.

When the restrictions eased I returned to work. 

Torbay Hospital Radio logo

Torbay Hospital Radio - Credit: Submitted

Earlier this year my daughter forwarded me an advert for Torbay Hospital Radio, it was her suggestion that I should apply.

Well, as you can gather, I did and I absolutely love it. I have carte blanche to play whatever music I fancy, but the best part is that we are reaching out past the environs of the hospital into the community.

Our listening figures are on the up, it gives me such a buzz knowing that our shows are being listened to.

If you fancy applying to Torbay Hospital Radio then do, you can apply via our website. There are many difference roles such as fundraising, going onto the wards and obtaining requests from the patients and we always need help with the outside broadcasts.

Being a presenter is not as scary as you think and you could try your hand at sound engineering - if I can master that then anyone can.

There is a full training programme to undertake and you are mentored before you are the controller of the airwaves.

For me, it one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love it. My show airs every Thursday from 5pm to 7pm. You can listen via our website.